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Senior-living project gets Newport planners’ OK for former art museum site

Vivante Newport
A rendering depicts a Vivante Senior Living project that would reach six stories on the former site of the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach.
(Courtesy of city of Newport Beach)

The Newport Beach Planning Commission has cleared a path for a new senior-living facility on the former site of the Orange County Museum of Art.

After getting the commission’s approval Thursday, Vivante Senior Living will now go before the City Council to get the final approvals it needs to build a luxury complex at 850-856 San Clemente Drive in Newport Center.

The six-story development would replace the former OCMA structures with 90 assisted-living dwellings and a 27-bed memory care unit. Amenities would include a dog park, dining rooms, a full-service bar, yoga and fitness rooms, an indoor pool, a two-lane bowling alley and lounge, a golf simulator, a salon, an art room, a theater and a library.

Vivante’s Costa Mesa-based developer, Nexus Development Corp., has a similar facility in Costa Mesa. Most of its portfolio consists of hotels, offices and traditional residential.

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“We recognized a need for really quality senior housing,” said Nexus President Cory Alder. “We hadn’t done it before and we embarked on it and we just kept trying to make it better and better. All we really wanted to do was create a place where our seniors could live their last years with integrity, with comfort, with love, [while] dealing with a lot of uncertainty in their lives.”

The commission gave the proposal a warm recommendation on a 5-0 vote, with members Lauren Kleiman and Peter Koetting absent.

Commissioner Erik Weigand said the Vivante in Costa Mesa is “marvelous” and that the Newport facility will have even more amenities.

“I think I myself could live in a place like that,” he said.

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If cleared by the council, the Newport Beach Vivante would consist of 54 one-bedroom and 36 two-bedroom assisted-living units, including four penthouses. Memory care patients would be grouped mostly in two-bedroom units, with some studios.

The assisted-living units would start at about 800 square feet and include full kitchens.

The Planning Commission’s approval also backs a general plan amendment to change the land-use category for the property from private institution to mixed-use horizontal.

The former OCMA property was to be the site of the 25-story Museum House luxury condominium tower before the City Council revoked its development approvals in 2017 when faced with enough petition signatures from opponents to force a referendum. The city settled two lawsuits last year involving the museum and local activists who opposed OCMA’s attempted land sale to would-be Museum House developer Related California. The museum sold the land to Nexus.

Vivante Newport is part of a wave of local senior-living development. In February, the City Council approved the rezoning necessary for a developer to build the 120-bed Harbor Pointe assisted-living and memory care campus near Bristol Street and Jamboree Road, where a Japanese restaurant now sits. And last year, the operators of Atria Newport Terrace got approval to heavily remodel their campus near Hoag Hospital.

The City Council is expected to take up the new project in August.


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